"Her mom made sure they always gave back," a source tells PEOPLE

By Erin Hill and Michelle Tauber
April 22, 2020 01:00 PM
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s recent charity work in L.A. — delivering meals for people living with critical illnesses amid the coronavirus pandemic — was inspired by Meghan’s mom, Doria Ragland.

“Meghan didn’t have much when she was a child, but her mom made sure they always gave back,” a source tells PEOPLE.

In fact, it was Ragland, a former social worker and yoga instructor who lives in Los Angeles, who gave her daughter the idea to volunteer for Project Angel Food, a non-profit charity that cooks, prepares and delivers meals to those in need.

“She said she wanted to do something to give back on Easter and was talking to her mom and her mom told her that Project Angel Food needs help and Meghan said, ‘Yes, brilliant,’ “ Richard Ayoub, Project Angel Food’s executive director, told PEOPLE.

Meghan Markle and Doria Ragland

Meghan has spoken in the past about her modest upbringing and how it shaped her humanitarian efforts — from her volunteer trips with charities to volunteering at a soup kitchen in Toronto, where she filmed Suits.

“My mother raised me to be a global citizen, with eyes open to sometimes harsh realities,” she wrote on her former lifestyle blog, The Tig. “I must have been about 10 years old when we visited the slums of Jamaica. I had never seen poverty at that level and it registered in my glazed brown eyes. ‘Don’t look scared, Flower,’ she said. ‘Be aware, but don’t be afraid.’ ”

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty

She continued: “Both my parents came from little, so they made a choice to give a lot — buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to patients in hospice care, donating any spare change in their pocket to those asking for it, and performing quiet acts of grace — be it a hug, a smile, or a pat on the back to show ones in need that they would be alright.

“This is what I grew up seeing, so that is what I grew up being: a young adult with a social consciousness to do what I could, and to, at the very least, speak up when I knew something was wrong.”

Meghan Markle
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Despite moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles, Meghan hasn’t been able to take advantage of being near her mother and friends amid the pandemic as they practice social distancing. But Ragland got lots of family time with her daughter, son-in-law Prince Harry and grandson Archie over the holidays when she spent time with them on Vancouver Island.

“She definitely gets a lot of her strength from her mother,” a friend previously told PEOPLE.